By Abner Galino
FILIPINO Americans and their Vietnamese American allies on Thursday held another joint demonstration in front of the People’s Republic of China’s consular office in Los Angeles to protest the alleged territorial incursions of the Asian superpower in the West Philippine Sea.
The protest was timed with the second anniversary of the decision of the United Nations (UN) Arbitral Tribunal that validated the Philippine government’s jurisdictional claim over of the disputed sea territory.
The rally was joined by the members of the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance (FAHRA), the Los Angeles Samahang Magdalo, Global Pinoy Diaspora, USP4GG, Af3IRM-South Bay and the Southern Vietnamese Refugee Association of Southern California (SVRASC).
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) deployed about a dozen of policemen around the Chinese consular office at 443 Shatto Place, in mid-city Los Angeles, and prevented the demonstrators to blow their bullhorns during the protest action.
Unfazed, the demonstrators continued their peaceful gathering by chanting off their demand that China honor the ruling of the UN Arbitral Tribunal and leave the West Philippine Sea.
Art Garcia of FAHRA said the demonstration was initially held at the doorstep of the Chinese embassy. However, the police asked them to move away, prompting them to continue their protest action across the street.
Garcia considered Thursday’s protest action as a big step in the over-all efforts of the Filipino people to pressure the Chinese government to respect Philippine sovereignty.
Similar protest actions were also held simultaneously by Filipino expatriates in Guam, Saipan, Vancouver in Canada and in San Francisco, USA.
The demonstration started at 12:00 p.m. and lasted for an hour, specifically as provided in their rally permit.
On June 12, on the celebration of the 120th Philippine Independence Day, Filipino and Vietnamese demonstrators also picketed the said Chinese embassy to demand that they leave the West Philippine Sea.
The UN Arbitral Tribunal has said that “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the “nine-dash line.”
The Philippines has asked the tribunal to rule on China’s claim to the contested waters in consonance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
China and the Philippines are both signatories to the said convention.
The tribunal concluded that China engaged in unlawful behavior in Philippine waters when it built a large artificial island on an atoll known as Mischief Reef.
The Chinese government has built a military airstrip and naval facilities in the said island.
The so-called “nine-dash-line” is a demarcation line used by the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) to assert their claims on major parts of the South China Sea.
The contested area includes the locations of the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands, Pratas Islands, Macclesfield Bank and the Scarborough Shoal.
The claim to these islands by the two feuding Chinese governments are being contested by other countries, aside from the Philippines, such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.